Category: Section 5

Section 5: Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. In my blogs I often refer to the registration and exemption requirements in the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). Section 5 of the Securities Act makes it unlawful to offer…

Nov012016

SEC Issues New C&DI On Rule 701

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On June 23, 2016, the SEC issued seven new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations (“C&DI”) related to Rule 701 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”). On October 19, 2016, the SEC issued an additional three C&DI. The majority of the new C&DI focus on the effect on Rule 701 issuances following a merger or acquisition and clarify financial statement requirements under Rule 701. Two of the new C&DI address restricted stock awards including the disclosure requirements are triggered and when the holding period begins under Rule 144.

Rule 701 – Exemption for Offers and Sales to Employees of Non-Reporting Entities

Rule 701 of the Securities Act provides an exemption from the registration requirements for the issuance of securities under written compensatory benefit plans. Rule 701 is a specialized exemption for private or non-reporting entities and may not be relied upon by companies that are subject to the reporting requirements of

Jul262016

Testing The Waters; Regulation A+ And S-1 Public Offerings – Part 2

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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The JOBS Act enacted in 2012 made the most dramatic changes to the landscape for the marketing and selling of both private and public offerings since the enactment of the Securities Act of 1933.  These significant changes include: (i) the creation of Rule 506(c), which came into effect on September 23, 2013, and allows for general solicitation and advertising in private offerings where the purchasers are limited to accredited investors; (ii) the overhaul of Regulation A, creating two tiers of offerings which came into effect on June 19, 2015, and allows for both pre-filing and post-filing marketing of an offering, called “testing the waters”; (iii) the addition of Section 5(d) of the Securities Act, which came into effect in April 2012, permitting emerging growth companies to test the waters by engaging in pre- and post-filing communications with qualified institutional buyers or institutions that are accredited investors; and (iv) Title III crowdfunding, which came

Dec162014

SEC Sanctions BITCOIN Exchange Operator-A Case Study In Basic Registration And Exemption Requirements

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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On December 8, 2014, the SEC settled charges against a creative, but ill informed, entrepreneur for acting as an unlicensed broker-dealer and for violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.  Ethan Burnside and his company, BTC Trading Corp., operated two online enterprises, BTC Virtual Stock Exchange and LTC-Global Virtual Stock Exchange, that traded securities using virtual currencies, bitcoin or litecoin.  Neither of these exchanges were registered as broker-dealers or stock exchanges.  In addition, Burnside and his company conducted separate transactions in which he offered investors the opportunity to use virtual currencies to buy or sell shares in the LTC-Global exchange itself and a separate litecoin mining venture he owned and operated.  These offerings were not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws.

According to the SEC release on the matter, “the exchanges provided account holders the ability to use bitcoin or litecoin to buy,

Nov252014

What Is A Security? The Howey Test And Reves Test

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics.  In my blogs I often refer to the registration and exemption requirements in the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”).  Section 5 of the Securities Act makes it unlawful to offer or sell any security unless a registration statement is in effect as to that security or there is an available exemption from registration.  Similarly, I often refer to the broker-dealer registration requirements.  To be a “broker” or “dealer,” a person must be engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities.

In today’s small cap world corporate finance transactions often take the form of a convertible note and/or options and warrants, the conversion of which relies on Section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act.  Section 3(a)(9) is an exemption available for the exchange of one security for another (such as a convertible note for common stock).  Likewise, Rule 144(d)(3)(i) allows the tacking of

Oct212014

SEC Issues Advertising Guidance Related to State-Specific Crowdfunding

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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As required by Title III of the JOBS Act, on October 23, 2013, the SEC published proposed crowdfunding rules.  The SEC has dubbed the new rules “Regulation Crowdfunding.” The entire 584-page text of the rule release is available on the SEC website.  As of today, it is unclear when final rules will be released and passed into law and what changes those final rules will have from the proposed rules.  Moreover, upon passage of the final rules, there will be a period of ramping-up time in which crowdfunding portals complete the process of registering with the SEC, becoming members of FINRA and completing the necessary steps to ensure that their portal operates in compliance with those final rules.  Federal crowdfunding is coming, but it is a slow process.

In the meantime, several states have either enacted or introduced state-specific crowdfunding legislation.

Federal Authority for State Crowdfunding Legislation

Both the federal government

Oct142014

Depositing Penny Stocks with Brokers Creates Obstacles; SEC Charges E*Trade with Section 5 Violation

ABA Journal’s 10th Annual Blawg 100

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Introduction

On October 9, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed an enforcement action against E*Trade Securities and E*Trade Capital Markets for selling billions of shares of unregistered and otherwise restricted penny stocks for their customers.  The SEC found that the firms processed the sales on behalf of three customers while ignoring red flags that the offerings being conducted were in violation of the federal securities laws in that the shares were neither registered nor subject to an available exemption from registration.  E*Trade Securities and E*Trade Capital Markets settled the enforcement proceeding by agreeing to pay a total of $2.5 million in disgorgement and penalties.

The SEC press release on the matter quoted Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, as saying, “Broker-dealers serve an important gatekeeping function that helps prevent microcap fraud by taking measures to ensure that unregistered shares don’t reach the market if the registration rules

Aug122014

Corporate Communications During the Public Offering Process; Avoid Gun Jumping

The public offering process is divided into three periods: (1) the quiet or pre-filing period, (2) the waiting or pre-effective period, and (3) the post-effective period.  Communications made by the company during any of these three periods may, depending on the mode and content, result in violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”).  Communication related violations of Section 5 are often referred to as “gun jumping.”  All forms of communication could create “gun jumping” issues (e.g., press releases, interviews, and use of social media).  “Gun jumping” refers to written or oral offers of securities made before the filing of the registration statement and written offers made after the filing of the registration statement other than by means of a prospectus that meet the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act, a free writing prospectus or a communication falling within one of the several safe harbors from the gun-jumping provisions.

Section 5(a) of

Jan072014

The DPO Process Including Form S-1 Registration Statement Requirements

One of the methods of going public is directly through a public offering.  In today’s financial environment, many Issuers are choosing to self-underwrite their public offerings, commonly referred to as a Direct Public Offering (DPO).  Management of companies considering a going public transaction have a desire to understand the required disclosures and content of a registration statement.  This blog provides that information.

Pursuant to Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“Securities Act”), it is unlawful to “offer” or “sell” securities without a valid effective registration statement unless an exemption is available.  Companies desiring to offer and sell securities to the public with the intention of creating a public market or going public must file with the SEC and provide prospective investors with a registration statement containing all material information concerning the company and the securities offered.  Currently all domestic Issuers must use either form S-1 or S-3.  Form S-3 is limited to larger filers with

Oct222013

How to Complete an Unregistered Spin-Off

A spin-off is when a parent company distributes shares of a subsidiary to the parent company’s shareholders such that the subsidiary separates from the parent and is no longer a subsidiary.  The distribution normally takes the form of a dividend by the parent corporation.   In Staff Legal Bulletin No. 4, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) explains how and under what circumstances a spin-off can be completed without the necessity of filing a registration statement.

In particular, the subsidiary shares (the shares distributed to the parent company shareholders) do not need to be registered if the following five conditions are met: (i) the parent shareholders do not provide consideration for the spun-off shares; (ii) the spin-off is pro-rata to the parent shareholders; (iii)

Oct042012

CROWDFUNDING FROM A TO Z

As the expected deadline for the SEC to publish rules and regulations enacting the Crowdfunding Act (Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act)) grows nearer, it is a good time for a complete overview of crowdfunding.  New Sections 4(6) and 4A of the Securities Act of 1933 codify the crowdfunding exemption and its various requirements as to Issuers and intermediaries.  The SEC is in the process of drafting the underlying rules and regulations which will implement these new statutory provisions.

A. WHAT IS CROWDFUNDING?

The Crowdfunding Act amends Section 4 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the Securities Act) to create a new exemption to the registration requirements of Section 5 of the Securities Act.  The new exemption allows Issuers to solicit “crowds” to sell up to $1 million in securities as long as no individual investment exceeds certain threshold amounts.

The threshold amount sold to any single investor cannot exceed (a) the greater of $2,000